Climate change is at the center of the 50th edition of the World Economic Forum (oftenly dubbed Davos) this year, probably more so than ever before.
In the latest edition of the WEF’s Global Risks Report, one threat superseded all others: climate change. In fact, the top five risks in terms of likelihood that will affect the world over the coming decade are all centered on this threat. The WEF emphasizes that this is the first time one category has occupied all of the top slots since the report was launched in 2006.
(WEF Global Risks Report 2020)
This fact has overshadowed most proceedings at the event. On Day 1, everyone from US President Donald Trump to Greta Thunberg addressed the issue with ranging opinions and temperaments. In fact, those two were the stars of the show, as the media is currently dubbing it the Greta vs. Trump show.
Trump pats himself on the back
US President Donald Trump, for one, had strong opinions on the matter. Amid talks of the improvements his term as President has brought to the United States, he also slipped a few jabs at activists calling attention to the global warming crisis.
“This is not a time for pessimism,” US President Trump said. “This is a time for optimism.”
“But to embrace the possibilities of tomorrow we must reject the perennial ‘prophets of doom’ and their predictions of the apocalypse. They wanna see us do badly, but we don’t [sic] let that happen.”
Ironically, the event itself “has been criticized for putting climate change at the top of the agenda when environmental activists argue that many delegates arriving on private planes represent some of the worst climate offences,” CNBC quipped.
Greta Thunberg fires back at world leaders in a powerful speech
17 year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg had a lot to say in this regard. She had very strong words for world leaders, pointing out their inaction towards climate change.
“One year ago, I came to Davos and told you that our house is on fire,” her speech starts. “Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour.”
She continued: “In the days running up to the 50th anniversary of the World Economic Forum, I joined a group of climate activists demanding that you, the world’s most powerful and influential business and political leaders, begin to take the action needed. Well, I’m here to tell you that, unlike you, my generation will not give up without a fight.”
“I wonder: What will you tell your children was the reason to fail and leave them facing a climate chaos that you knowingly brought upon them? That it seemed so bad for the economy that we decided to resign the idea of securing future living conditions without even trying?
In the background of the Thunberg/Trump clash were the usual suspects: panels on economy, politics and civil issues.
The CEO of Goldman Sachs defended the bank’s work on the troubled public listing of WeWork, “while also acknowledging that valuations for tech startups have become skyhigh and need to become more grounded in reality.”
Meanwhile, China was busy celebrating their latest trade deal with the US.
According to the South China Morning Post, “Vice-Premier Han Zheng told the World Economic Forum that China’s trade deal with the United States will not hurt rival exporting nations as complaints mount from governments that were left out of the agreement.”
The phase one trade deal is good for the US, China and the world,” he said. “China’s increasing purchases of US goods are in accordance with WTO guidelines and will not impact its imports from other countries.
In regards to Saudi Arabia, its finance minister Mohammed al-Jadaan told Reuters on the sidelines of Davos that the proceeds of last month’s listing of oil giant Saudi Aramco would be pumped into the local economy over several years, including building up defense systems.
As for the rest of the world, the IMF didn’t have great things to say.
“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has become less optimistic about global growth, warning that the outlook remains ‘sluggish’ and there are no clear signs of a turning point,” CNBC reported.
“The projected recovery for global growth remains uncertain. It continues to rely on recoveries in stressed and underperforming emerging market economies, as growth in advanced economies stabilizes at close to current levels,” Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s chief economist, said in a written statement.
All in all, it seems economic uncertainty and climte change were the talk of the town on Day 1 of the WEF. More to come soon.